One of the questions that many personal injury clients have relates to the need to go to court. Though the victims of others’ negligence are in need of these financial settlements, they fear having to go to court, being asked difficult questions, and having to relive the tragedy over and over again. Fortunately, these cases will often settle out of court. This is good news for the person worried about being placed at center stage during the proceedings, but is it really the right choice for you, financially?
You will ultimately have to make a decision whether or not the settlement, offered by the opposing party, is enough to cover your losses. This is something that your Saint Petersburg personal injury attorney will likely to discuss with you, at length, before any negotiations have started. A good lawyer will help you determine your bottom line needs; therefore, as you move forward with the pre-court talks, you can have a clear idea of what you want to receive for compensation.
There are several factors, aside from your financial needs, however, that should be weighed when deciding whether or not to accept an offered settlement.
First, what are your chances of winning if you do go to court? Put aside your worries and consider how the case will appear to a judge and jury. Is it a clear cut case of negligence on the part of the defendant? Or, are you going to have difficultly pulling enough evidence together to prove your case? It is not always as straightforward as it might seem because the opposition is likely building a case against you. Will the jury have reason to trust your judgement, or are there parts of your past that could damage your credibility in their eyes? Are your witnesses upstanding citizens? Do they suffer from physical or mental disabilities that could hinder their ability to provide accurate witness statements? These are all considerations when deciding whether or not you should settle out of court.
There is not only the question of whether you will win, but also what you will win. The jury may rule in your favor, but that doesn’t mean that you are going to be awarded the full amount of damages requested in the lawsuit. The jury will determine what a fair value is, based on the facts of the case. If you are deemed partially responsible for the accident, the damages could be reduced based on your percentage of fault, as determined by the court, for instance.
You must also consider the element of time. Even if you believe that you are very likely to win the trial and will likely be awarded $250,000 based on the facts of your case, if you desperately need $50,000 to cover your medical bills and repair expenses now, then you may want to accept the settlement for $100,000 because St. Petersburg court trials can be long endeavors. You could be left waiting for many months, without any guarantee of winning the case, and that may simply be too long.
It is very important to discuss your financial situation at length with your attorney. You should have a clear picture of how much you need to cover your financial losses, and how much you stand to lose as a result of continued medical care and/or any difficulty completing your daily work tasks. Furthermore, you should understand how much your attorney is going to charge you at the end of the trial, and factor that into your bottom line figures. Discuss how likely you are to win your case, and what other cases like yours have been settling for in terms of financial numbers in the recent past. All of these factors can help you make a wise decision when it comes time to negotiate a settlement.